Western United Head Coach John Aloisi is adamant his side is well and truly alive in its Isuzu UTE A-League Men semi-final tie against Melbourne Victory.
United fell 1-0 in the first leg on Tuesday night to a second-half strike from Jake Brimmer, but Aloisi is bullish about the team’s chances in the return fixture on Saturday.
“The first half, our pressure on the ball was superb. We limited them to few chances if any, and they had to score a special goal to win the game,” he said.
“If we play like that, to be honest we’re well and truly in this tie. This is the first half, we’re 1-0 down, we’re back here (at AAMI Park), we don’t have to play away from home.
“We’re excited about Saturday night and I can see our boys are excited too because they felt it. They felt it after the game, they were like ‘wow, we can go, we can give them some game Saturday’.”
Aloisi highlighted vice-captain Josh Risdon, who came in for his first start in over two months, for an excellent performance at right-back.
“Unbelievable. Josh has come back from an operation, and to be able to perform like that in a big game, he showed physically how good he is, and his calmness on the ball in certain situations,” he said.
Heading into the second leg, Aloisi said he will expect more of the same from both sides and won’t be compelled to make any changes.
Faced with the prospect of Melbourne Victory wanting to either hold onto the lead or add to it, Aloisi said his team will be ready for any and all situations.
“If they sit back no problem. If they come to press us, no problem, we’ll play a certain way. We’re ready for whatever they try and do and we’ll play our game,” he said.
“We don’t have to panic because it’s one goal, we don’t have to try and think we have to do something completely different. We took the game to them in the first 20 minutes and put them under pressure. There might be a few little tweaks from their side or our side, but nothing drastic has to change.”
Aloisi has been without a handful first-team players for some time now, the latest of which was Rene Krhin who missed out with a hamstring strain he sustained in the Elimination Final win over Wellington Phoenix.
The boss said despite the less than 72-hour turnaround and those absentees, he was proud of the performance and the intensity the players brought on the pitch.
“And how well we coped! Again, unbelievable. Credit to the players. We’ve got about five or six players out and we matched them like that. Brilliant,” he said.
“It was really good, the way we were able to press them from the start and put them under pressure, and also not give them time in midfield. We were able to use that intensity and that’s a credit to the players.”
The sides will return to AAMI Park on Saturday evening for a 5:15pm kick-off, with Western United aiming for a first ever A-League Men Grand Final appearance.
All Western United fans will unite together in the away end on Saturday. Tickets are now on sale, come together as a Green and Black family and get ready to get behind the team.